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Kenyan doctor who tested positive for COVID-19 and her caring house help 

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BY KEVIN KOECH

When the former Kenya Medical Association (CEO) Amakove Wala received the news she had tested positive for COVID-19, she was thrown into a panic mode and worried about her babies.

To ensure her kid’s routine was not interfered with as she stayed in isolation, the doctor adopted the current mode of holding meetings online using Zoom to catch up with the young ones.

However, while documenting her experience on her a Facebook page, the medic could not hide her joy on Monday, August 3, as she finally came out of isolation feeling better.

Amakove was keen enough to also express gratitude to one person who played the crucial role of nursing her while she was in isolation – her longtime friend and househelp identified as Susan.

“I owe this lady my life. She risked her own health to nurse me. She endured stigma from neighbours,” she said.

According to Amakove, the househelp did not only nurse her but also counselled her children who did not understand what was happening to their mother and why she was isolating.

“She made all those concoctions that I had to drink. Thank you, Susan!” she said.

We have been through a lot the past nine years or so but on this, you have made me believe that good people still exist,” added Amakove.

The doctor discharged herself from isolation after 12 days of not displaying any COVID-19 related symptoms including chills, fever and muscle aches for three consecutive days.

“I am done with this nasty bug. I have gained my freedom. I have discharged myself from home based care,” said Amakove.

“I could not have done it without all your support. Thank you! I have been to hell and back. isolation is the worst form of human torture in my opinion,” she added.

Amakove was among over 600 medics who are reported to have contracted the virus while a number of healthcare workers have succumbed to complications caused by the disease.

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Health

Kenyans in US grapple with Covid-19 woes

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His conspicuous Kenyan name, Kariuki, is what gave him out and attracted the attention of a handful of compatriots working at the Philadelphia international airport.

Recently, staff at the airport woke up to news that scores of homeless people had been rounded up by the airport police and the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Among them was Kariuki (first name withheld for privacy reasons), a Days later, the Nation located Mr Kariuki in a shelter for homeless people on Island Avenue in South Philadelphia.

Mr Kariuki, originally from Nakuru County in Kenya’s Rift Valley, came to the US as an undergrad student at Temple university in Philadelphia five years ago.

“My mom, a hawker in Nakuru, raised the initial $10,000 for my tuition and that could only last me a semester and a half. Fortunately, I got a part-time job at the library in college but I still had to work at a local grocery store in the evenings and play drums for my church on Sundays where I was paid $100 every Sunday. Things were okay until Covid-19,” said Mr Kariuki.

A combination of photos of counsellor and clinical consultant Abel Oriri, who is based in Cleveland, Ohio; Geoffrey Chepkwony, who died in August in Texas, US; and David Bulindah, a clinical counsellor based in Seattle, Washington.

When, towards the end of March, the state of Pennsylvania shut down everything including education institutions, hotels and shops — and restricted movement, his world came tumbling down.

“My roommate, in whose name our apartment was registered cancelled the lease and returned to Memphis, Tennessee to his family. For almost three months, I lived in my car. It was hard to find food. The nights were cold. I started developing regular panic attacks that left me feeling like I was going crazy!” he said.

So bad were the panic attacks that police found him at the busy intersection between Island Avenue and Lindberg shouting at motorists and trying to stop them.

“I cannot remember doing this,” he says, although he describes himself at the time as “stressed, depressed and contemplating suicide”.

Psychiatric help

One day, he woke up in some psychiatric facility in West Chester and was told he had been there for three weeks.

“I was totally confused, and heavily sedated. I had nowhere to go but at least I knew I had to leave that place,” he says

Mr Kariuki finally went to the airport because one of his classmates was working at an eatery that had remained open. His friend would occasionally give him a fresh meal and, at least at the airport, he’d enjoy heating during spring and cold air in summer. That was where the authorities found him and other homeless people who they took to shelters.

Mr Kariuki’s story is unfortunately now just one of the many familiar stories of Kenyans living abroad — made worse by the pandemic.

“It’s of course true to say that Covid-19 has led to a significant increase and demand for mental health intervention due to anxiety and depression. In fact, recent research indicates that more than 53 per cent of adults in the US have reported that their mental health had negatively been impacted directly,” said Kenyan-born counsellor and clinical consultant, Abel Oriri based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Recently, Kenyans in Houston, Texas, were shocked by the death of Geoffrey Chepkwony, who is thought to have committed suicide after his body was found on the streets. He was said to have been struggling with mental health problems. The Kenyan community in the US, led by those in Texas, has been raising the money needed to ship his remains home following a passionate appeal from his mother in Kenya.

Another high-profile case is that of the first Kenyan-born National Football League player, Daniel Adongo, who later fell from grace. His worrying state was depicted in a video clip widely shared online. His family later said they had sought help for him. Coronavirus seems to have exacerbated social and health issues like homelessness, depression and domestic violence, among others.

Support groups

Mr Oriri, who is also a pastor, says most of his clients now describe feelings of depression, anxiety, worry, stress, loneliness, poor appetite, suicidal thoughts and isolation.

“Many report difficulties sleeping, eating, increased alcohol consumption and substance use. Worsening chronic conditions from worry, depression, and stress over Covid-19.

The anger management and domestic violence groups that I have been providing for more than 20 years have surged one hundred percent in enrollment since the pandemic began,” he said in a recent interview.

David Bulindah, a Kenyan Pastoral and Clinical Counsellor based in Seattle, Washington, said the usually structured life of Kenyans in the US was recently disrupted without warning by the coronavirus.

“Most people could not leave their job and or could not go to their second job. For someone who had been enjoying consistent income to suddenly lose all that, stress, anxiety and depression thus kicks in”. he said.

Mr. Bulindah says that the Kenyan community will only deal with these issues if it opens up and discusses mental health and homelessness candidly without pre-judging those affected.

“People should know that it’s okay to lose a job and it’s okay to experience mental health problems. Those affected should not isolate themselves rather, reach out for help,” he said.

By nation.co.ke

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Picture photoshopped to show as if prostitutes are demonstrating in support of Ruto

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A photo purporting to show sex workers holding a banner thanking Deputy President William Ruto for supporting their trade has been shared thousands of times on social networking platforms.

It has been posted herehere and here among other places alongside a claim the Kenya Sex Workers Association has endorsed William Ruto’s 2022 candidature for the presidency.

This claim is false; the photo has been doctored to include some of the writings on the banner.

A combined Google reverse image and keyword search by the Standard Digital Fact Check desk found that the original image was first posted on December 17, 2015. Activists in Kisumu were agitating for an end to violence against sex workers.

On the original image, the banner had the words ‘Stop killing sex workers. They are human. Save us from our saviours only rights can stop the wrongs (sic)’. These were replaced with ‘Asante Ruto for supporting our hustle. Wewe tutakupea free!’ in the manipulated image.

The original image taken on December 17, 2015 during the International day to end violence against sex workers. [Courtesy]

Kenya Sex Workers Association – a lobby pushing for the rights of sex workers – has also denied that the doctored image was from them or any of their member organisations.

It confirmed that the original image was from a past demonstration.

“We want to reiterate our position as a national movement that we do not engage neither endorse any political party, candidate or person,” it said on Facebook.

“We wish to call on the relevant authorities to investigate the source of these images which have been used to malign certain individuals,” it added.

-standardmedia.co.ke

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Dennis Onsarigo in mourning

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Former KTN investigative Journalist Dennis Onsarigo is mourning the sudden demise of his father.

Onsarigo, who works as the Director of Communication in Taita Taveta County, shared the sad news via a tweet on his official Twitter account that enjoys a following over 641K followers.

“I just lost my dad” announced Dennis Onsarigo.

Despite, sharing the sad news to the public, Onsarigo did not reveal the cause of his father’s death.

Dennis Onsarigo Dad

Condolences message form KOT

Following the announcement, Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) joined conversation sending in their condolences messages to Onsarigo and his family.

Martin Wachira @Martowachira “@Donsarigo Polse sana . May God comfort and give you and your family strength during this difficult time”

The Chief ‘Pole sana Denis. May God give you and your family strength during this difficult time”

Julie Gichuru ‘@Donsarigo Poleni sana Dennis. My deepest condolences. Wishing you all strength during this difficult time. May he rest in peace Folded handsFolded handsFolded hands”.

Kirigo Ng’arua ‘@Donsarigo Deepest condolences to you and your family. Poleni”

John-Allan Namu “@Donsarigo Pole Sana Dennis. May God rest his soul in peace”

Leon Lidigu “@Donsarigo Pole sana big bro”

Sophia Wanuna “@Donsarigo Pole sana ndugu … upholding you & your family in prayer”

Akisa Wandera “@Donsarigo Oh noooCrying faceCrying face I’m so sorry Dennis”

Gladys Gachanja “@Donsarigo My condolences Dennis….poleni sana”

Dennis Itumbi, HSC “@Donsarigo Pole sana. God rest Dad in eternity. I pray for comfort and peace to you and Family”

Millicent Omanga “@Donsarigo Pole sana brother”

By pulse live.co.ke

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